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Sears website buckled on Black Friday

The online bargain-hunting on Black Friday caused problems for several e-commerce websites, but none was affected worse than Sears.com. The website buckled under the pressure of the increased visitor numbers and was unavailable for large parts of the day.

The Sears website initially just started timing out or responding with an internal server error message (HTTP error 500). It later started redirecting visitors to a temporary maintenance page that stated, “We’re sorry, Sears.com is temporarily closed for site enhancements.” (Screenshot below.)

However, a lot of the time even this maintenance page could not be delivered, when requests to the website either timed out or resulted in an internal server error, like the example below (captured by Pingdom’s monitoring service):

Several other retailers had problems with their websites as well, though not to the same extent as Sears did. StorefrontBacktalk, a news website focused on retail and e-commerce, followed the development during Black Friday with the help of several monitoring services (including Pingdom) and has posted information about several Black Friday incidents.